On a stormy night, a theatrical producer, his secretary, and playwright Prescott Ames are stranded when their car skids off the road and gets stuck. The three take refuge in the nearby home of Dr. Kent, a friend of Ames. One of Kent's patients, who is staying at the house, is acting strangely, and the others in the house tell the newcomers that she is behaving this way because it is the anniversary of her husband's murder. At dinner, the group begins exchanging accusations about the murder, when suddenly the lights go out, and soon afterwards comes the first in a series of mysterious and fearful events. Written by
Now, this movie, made in the middle of the great wave of 30s' mysteries, certainly has got ALL the 'necessary' ingredients: the isolated old house, the thunderstorm outside, psychic ongoings, turning bookshelves, eyes staring out of portraits, secret passages... But at the same time it's also one of the very first, and best, spoofs on the genre - and the scary moments are really masterfully mixed with the comic ones!
It all starts (once again) with a car being stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere, with only an old mansion for the three travelers to seek shelter from the rain: a theatrical producer, his secretary, and a playwright. But the scenery changes as soon as the inhabitants of the house greet the playwright: they're old acquaintances, although not all of them seem to be on very friendly terms with him. And then a strange woman makes her appearance: dressed all in black and staring in an absent-minded way, she steps down the stairs - and scares the travelers with her strange talk about danger and murders in this very house... The host explains that she's his sister, and she's been mentally disturbed ever since her husband was murdered right there in the dining room three years ago - and as soon as they sit down to dinner, she starts talking to her invisible dead husband, a chair starts to move all by itself, the lights turn out, a frightening death mask is seen; and when the lights are on again, the mysterious woman has disappeared...
But as soon as the producer and the secretary, both scared to death, have disappeared into their room, the atmosphere changes: the playwright and his friends, who turn out to be actors, are very much amused and pleased by their 'rehearsal' of his new play, which he hopes the producer will accept this way! Meanwhile, the producer finds a copy of the script in his room, and so he also thinks he knows what's going on, and decides to join in with the 'fun' - only that a short while later, the 'play' is ended suddenly when they find the actress who had impersonated the disturbed woman is found dead behind a door...
From this point on, the movie keeps confusing us so much that sometimes we really don't know where the 'plot within the plot' stops and the 'real' horror begins... But the balance between mystery and comedy is being held really perfectly throughout the whole movie, so it should provide unforgettable entertainment for ALL classic movie fans with a sense of humor - a much underestimated little B movie gem that should certainly get more attention by film historians, so that a wider audience will be able to get to know and enjoy it!
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